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Progress without RPE

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  • Progress without RPE

    I bought several of the templates from BBM and tried to learn RPE. I understand that this seems to be the best option. Adding weight every time isn’t great programming for long term. I know because it seems I get stuck and have to either gain more weight or take a deload.
    This is why RPE seems to be beneficial since I can regulate my stress on that given training day. But I’ve done these templates and I don’t have a great adherence to it. I can never finish a template and I’m not having fun using the RPE scale.
    What can anyone suggest for good programming without the use of RPE and not just adding weight and grinding through reps like the Texas method.

  • #2
    I still think you should use RPE but for the sake of discussion I'll suggest using the only objective RPE (10). So basically you can auto-regulate by doing an AMRAP set and then selecting load for the remainder of your sets from a percentage of the weight in the AMRAP set. This allows you to do auto-regulated submaximal sets, without using RPE but has two main drawbacks compared to RPE: you have to start with a maximal set, and you are auto-regulating less (only the first set is truly auto-regulated the following sets may be an improper dose of stress, especially as you get further away from that first set.)

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    • #3
      What is your favorite part about your training? What was your favorite program you ever ran?

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      • #4
        There are other forms of training you can use, e.g. % based training. Why don't you try a couple of cycles of a % based program and see how you respond?

        For example, you could calculate your 1RM based on your previous lifts, and then assign a % based on the RPE scale.

        Say your 1RM is 100kg, you could work 3 sets of 5 at 80kg. This works out at around an RPE8 anyway, but you have the added benefit of going into the gym with a specific weight in mind you are going to lift. Bear in mind that some days will be harder and easier, so the equivalent RPE may drift between ~6-9, but you should in theory still be able to make progress.

        For progression, you could add a rep to each set each week, so something like:
        week 1 - 3 sets of 5
        week 2 - 3 sets of 6
        week 3 - 3 sets of 7
        week 4 - add weight, go back to 3 sets of 5.
        week 5 - 3 sets of 6 etc etc

        Granted, this is a basic programme and would require refinement and thought towards exercise selection etc, but if it helps you make progress, you enjoy it and you are able to stick to it (which seems to be your biggest problem), then it's better than flip-flopping between programs and making no progress.

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        • Flandaneran
          Flandaneran commented
          Editing a comment
          What you described is essentially what I do when I am not following a template. moving up from 3 sets of 5 to 3 sets of 6 is really not that small of a jump.

      • #5
        Originally posted by Papesam View Post
        I bought several of the templates from BBM and tried to learn RPE. I understand that this seems to be the best option. Adding weight every time isn’t great programming for long term. I know because it seems I get stuck and have to either gain more weight or take a deload.
        This is why RPE seems to be beneficial since I can regulate my stress on that given training day. But I’ve done these templates and I don’t have a great adherence to it. I can never finish a template and I’m not having fun using the RPE scale.
        What can anyone suggest for good programming without the use of RPE and not just adding weight and grinding through reps like the Texas method.

        I'm pretty sure there are a few (many) programs that use other forms of auto-regulation other than RPE.

        They prescribe AMRAPs, and then dial in future/proposed load jumps and percentages based off of the AMRAP result(s) (last set, end of week session, etc)

        I can't think of any right off the top of my head right now. You'd have to google around ("AMRAP" + Autoregulation)

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        • #6
          I would use RPE but give yourself a goal range before each session, that's what I do for my training. I got into the gym ready to hit an RPE 8 squat single and I know it has to be something between 440-475 depending how my warmups feel. It gives me a concrete goal to look forward to but keeps me in check as well.

          Capping yourself really is a good moral booster. When you hit your MAX goal and you know you still had two reps in the tank, it gets you really fired up to get in there the next session. There's nothing more demotivating than hitting an RPE 10 set mid training cycle and then knowing that's the best i've got in me.

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